We had another much needed late start today at 9 A.M! Although I enjoyed the company visits, I won’t miss our excessively early wake-up times. We took the tram to the train station, where the train was about 3 minutes late. This simply wouldn’t fly in the U.S. According to Dr. Feick, the trains in Germany are much faster, partially due to the tracks being a straight path. The transportation system in Germany is overall just so much more efficient than in the U.S.
When we first got to Munich, we were met with a huge crowd akin to that in New York City. We slowly made our way to the new town hall in the center of town, just in time to watch the wooden figures atop the town hall perform for us. Our tour guide later explained to us that in the first part of the dance, where the wooden figures on horseback joust and the Bavarian soldier wins, someone has to climb to the top of the town hall to reset the slumped enemy soldier. The second part of the dance, where the second row of wooden figures spin in circles, is called the Coopers dance, and it is performed every 7 years in Munich. It can only be performed by a Cooper, but since this woodworking profession is dying out, there is now only a requirement for one of the dancers to be a Cooper.
Our tour guide brought us to a few important places around Munich for the next few hours. One part that I found especially interesting was one of the churches we visited. I believe the name is the twin towers of Frauenkirche, and our guide explained that when the towers were originally built, the citizens of Munich refused to believe that such a tall building was built so quickly (in about 20 years). She explained a story that the citizens of Munich made up, where the devil helped build the church, and the devil was blocked out of the church when it was finished being built for being too holy. The devil stamped his foot and made an imprint on the ground.
Although many parts of Munich were absolutely stunning, from the churches to the various parks and shops we walked through, I can definitively say that I prefer the quaint and lesser-known feel of Augsburg. Our home-base city has a more authentically-German feel, and I am always aware that I’m in a country that is so different from my own. It’s nice to go for days without seeing other tourists, as though we’re really isolated from our American lives.
After our tour, we had a solid five hour chunk of free time, and the guys and I went to the Bavarian restaurant Zum Straubinger. On our way to the restaurant, Vipin and I enjoyed practicing our German accents (his is far superior to mine). I especially enjoyed repeating the name of the restaurant, and I’ve been getting used to pronouncing z like “ts” and s at the beginning of a word as “sh.”
At the restaurant, I ordered a schnitzel, which was pretty good. I was kind of jealous of the duck that Daniel ordered across the table from me. The most interesting part of my meal was easily when I was paying inside the restaurant, a brawny waiter who donned a thick gray beard walked inside, gripping a clearly drunk customer by the shoulders. The customer said some slurred German to me as I was paying, and Maxi later told me that he was accusing me of stealing his credit card. The bulky waiter forced the drunken man to pay and forced him outside. As we were leaving, the waiter came outside and apologized, offering me a fist bump. I was like “bring it in ” and was given one of the best hugs I’ve ever received.
We spent the next few hours shopping at various souvenir shops, where I purchased a few more shot glasses and a few souvenirs for my siblings back at home. We later ate some gelato, and saw one of the coolest street performers I’ve ever seen – a headless accordion player.
We then walked to our group dinner, a restaurant called Hans im Glück, which served some seriously delectable burgers. I ordered a BBQ/bacon burger with cheese, a side of sweet potato fries, and a delicious mango drink with a super cool presentation. I have no idea how, but my favorite meals on this trip have been the burgers. The restaurant was also pretty cool looking, but they could have done a better job with the floor plan. but it had a lot of skinny birch trees right near the tables, which made it really difficult to fit between the seats.
After my delicious dinner, we returned to Augsburg once again via train. Today was a nice change of pace, as I liked having our first bit of free time and getting an opportunity to explore a new city. Bis morgen!